I may have given you the impression that STEM was impolite. If I did, then I misled you.
Despite his opening conversational gambit of blatant sexual chauvinism STEM was a pleasant conversationalist and we told both him and his father that. He even listened attentively when I playfully lectured him on the fact that not only was my wife a former WWF wrestler (a lie) but that she was also a former college basketball player. (A deception, but technically the truth. She played for SUNI Cobleskill, a two-year ag/tech college situated between Albany and Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.) We shared the bus ride and pleasant conversation but our easy-going exchange was interrupted by the bus driver. The announcement he made had we three foreign travelers throw our hands up in despair. The bus would be detouring and could not take us to our desired stop because ground transportation was gridlocked. “So sorry, but you can’t get there from here.”
What the hell?
Our bus route was scheduled to take us directly to Wrigley Field and then keep going. Directly to Wrigley was why STEM and Papa were on the bus but for us it was just a landmark we would pass by.
In a pig’s eye.
The streets were filled with revelers and the bus was going to detour around the (currently) peaceful and sober mob. Probably a wise choice for Chicago Transit to make but we’re stuck in the middle.
Typically, this sort of first-world-problem would infuriate my wife, anger my sister-in-law and mildly perturb me. (The detour part that is. I hate not knowing where I am, where I’m going nor how to get there.) But because the issue is a celebration for The Cubs none of us is upset, though we are perplexed. Now what?
The bus driver repeats his message concerning the detour and we decide to exit the bus rather than go even further out of our way. We say goodbye to our traveling companions and once we’re on the sidewalk Pat does the Google Map thing, declaring that we can get where we need to be by working our way through the throngs. Have you ever tried to work your way through the throngs while pulling a Brobdingnag suitcase? It ain’t easy!
We get to Wrigley and I say, “Wait! I promised a friend that I’d chalk his grandfather’s name on the wall if I got an opportunity! Looks like this may be our best chance.”
Only I couldn’t. The street was cordoned off by police barricades preventing anyone from crossing or milling in it. Buses filled with Cubs were on their way and the entrance into Wrigley had to be kept open. Unable to satisfy Elijah’s request I snapped a photo of the stadium and messaged him that maybe I’d get another chance. I felt a bit like I imagined Moses must have standing on the wrong side of The Jordan. I could see The Promised Land but I wasn’t allowed to enter. I wonder if Moses took a selfie from the western bank?
We crawled toward our destination but came across more police and barricades. This time we couldn’t move forward at all as even the sidewalk was blocked. We stopped, regrouped, reevaluated and came up with a new plan of attack. Like Sergeant Highway we improvise, adapt, overcome. Pat declares that we will make our way to a different L Station a bit further down the line. We have our marching orders and deploy away from the front and try to maneuver around the enclosure.
The area is congested, the going slow, and I am regretting my decision to do an easy twenty-minute run that morning. My feet are hurting from our walking, my belly is wondering why it hasn’t seen anything but pretzels since seven a.m. and I’m starting to think I should change my name to Thomas because I am doubting my goddess like leader. I later learn that we could have just stayed on The L and eliminated the whole boondoggle but for now I am pleased when Pat declares, “There’s our station. Just have to get on the L,” which, after some more turnstile contortions and suitcase totting stair climbs we do.
“Almost there,” Pat declares.
Of course, this is the same woman who said the bus ride would be easy.